Three Legal Traditions: Rabbis, Romans and Canonists

  • Barry Gordon


The role of the social visions of major religious thinkers and philosophers in shaping the course of economic thought generally excites more interest than the seemingly more mundane contributions of legists. Yet it is an inescapable fact that European economic analysis owes a great deal to legal enquiry of earlier ages. The contribution of the Roman jurists in this respect is often acknowledged. Less frequently, the evolution of the legal system of the Christian church of the Latin rite is deemed relevant. Because of sketchy historical evidence and communication problems amongst researchers, the Jewish tradition based on the Mishnah tends to be neglected almost completely. This chapter offers some preliminary insights concerning the economic aspects of these bodies of legal thought and, while recognising that much detailed work remains to be done, indicates some of the areas of impact on the predisposition of analytical economics as it began to emerge in scholastic debate.


Economic Analysis Interest Payment Thirteenth Century Economic Thought Legal Tradition 
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  1. 18.
    Edgar Salin, ‘Just Price’, Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences ed. E. R A. Seligman and A. Johnson, Vol. VIII ( N.Y., Macmillan, 1932 ) p. 505.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Barry Gordon 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NewcastleAustralia

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